We came across Budget Pantry not too long ago, and were fascinated by Chrissy’s great sharing on how to create great meals out of a shoestring budget. Today, we are honoured to have Chrissy up at our Homecooks Spotlight.
I started budgetpantry last year when I quit to cook full time for my two elderly aunts who are 75 and 79. They’ve never been married and have taken care of me since I was a little girl. When I worked late nights, I often came home to see them eating fried rice with egg every night! I decided there was no better time to spend more time with them, and since I had no income, cooking had to be done on a budget. I wanted to prove that nutritious and delicious meals for 3-4 people can be prepared with a $30-a-week grocery bill. And that was how budgetpantry was born.
1. What is our favourite kind of food to make? I have a thing for re-creating local hawker food. Having had the opportunity to travel quite extensively, I think that Singaporean food is really one of the best in the world. There really aren’t many places where you can find a delicious meal with all kinds of exploding flavours in a dish for SG$3 – $4 a serving. And being a huge MasterChef fan, I also like to do restaurant-inspired dishes which look picture perfect, on a budget of course!
2. Do you plan a weekly menu? If so, what inspires your menu? I used to plan a weekly menu as that is the best way to cook on a budget. Now that I am back in the workforce, I don’t do that anymore. When I was cooking lunch and dinner daily, I drew up weekly menus based on the ingredients I was going to work with for the week, to minimise wastage. For example, the market opposite my block sells eggplants at 3 for a dollar. if I was going to make a Grilled Eggplant with Cheese for Monday’s lunch, I’ll use up the rest of them in a saucy Stir-Fried Eggplants with Minced Meat for Wednesday’s dinner.
3. What is your favourite recipe posted on your blog/website?
I love Bak Chor Mee. It is the one thing I crave (ok, laksa too) when I’m overseas for a prolonged period. Although you have to prepare the mushrooms, minced meat and noodles separately, the effort is worth it. The recipe can be found here: http://budgetpantry.com/bak-chor-mee/
4. What is your favourite kitchen tool/ appliance? Without a doubt, the Philips Airfryer. I have made crackling roast pork, crispy salmon skin, fried dumplings, KFC-style chicken, pretzels, muffins, cakes, and almost anything you can think of in my Airfryer! I even have a “Philips Airfryer” category (http://budgetpantry.com/category/airfryer/) on my blog just for Airfryer recipes.
5. What is your best tip for getting dinner on the table? Plan ahead! When you have a dinner idea in your head, executing that idea becomes so easy. You know where to grab your ingredients, you know what to start on as something else is cooking (we’re such marvellous multi-taskers), you know how much time you need, and you’re never caught by surprise.
6. What kind of food did you eat growing up? Do you cook the same kinds of things today? My family is Teochew, and my now 79-year-old aunt is a great cook. Interestingly, my favourite dish that she used to cook was hardly Teochew! It is a creamy chicken stew cooked using roux, red onions, potatoes and carrots. I think she learnt this dish from her sister-in-law, who in turn learnt it from her dad who was a chef back then. Do I cook the same kinds of things today? Yes, I guess, I cook a lot of fusion and home-style comfort food!
7. What is your favourite part about blogging? Learning to take great pictures. Plus blogging gives me a chance to rekindle an old flame with writing!
8. What was the first dish you’ve ever cooked? I think it’s gotta be those “Rock Buns” from Home Economics class!
9. What is the best thing you’ve ever eaten? The strangest? Nothing will ever compare to the crispy, juicy, fat chicken wings my aunt always bought for me at the basement of Yaohan Supermarket, Plaza Sing, back in the 80’s and early 90’s. I was a fat kid who reallyyyy loved her fried chicken wings. Those chicken wings were the bestest thing I have ever eaten. I have not tried anything really strange though!
10. What are your favourite food blogs/ website? Lily Ng from “Lily’s Wai Sek Hong” (http://lilyng2000.blogspot.sg/) is my kitchen goddess. I mean, who else in the world makes hor fun from scratch and grows her own bean sprouts? I also love “Just One Cookbook” (http://www.justonecookbook.com/) for really easy to follow step-by-step Japanese recipes.
Recipe to share:
Garlic Lemon Saba Fish (recipe here: http://budgetpantry.com/garlic-lemon-mackerel-saba-fish/)
Total cost per serving: $1.86
What I used:
1 portion saba fish
Fresh red chilli, deseeded and chopped
A squeeze of lemon juice
A tablespoon minced garlic
A tablespoon of olive oil
A very light sprinkle of salt
1. Clean your saba fillet and pat dry. Lay it on top of a piece of aluminium foil, flesh facing up. No need to wrap!
2. Lightly sprinkle with salt and squeeze the lemon juice over.
3. Top with minced garlic + chilli, and drizzle with olive oil, deliberately coating the garlic with oil.
4. Airfry at 180 degrees for eight minutes.
Get to know more about Chrissy and all her wonderful recipes at the links below!